The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), for all its positives, is not perfect. With all the talk about the lost orangutans in the Tripa fires, the need for “sustainable” palm oil, the RSPO, etc., I just want to make sure that people know that just because a company is a member of the RSPO, that we consumers can’t just go off on our merry, carefree, guilt-free ways. In fact, some corporations (e.g., Cargill) use RSPO membership and certification as a form of “greenwashing,” that is, to give their products the appearance that they’re green when such claims may not be entirely accurate.
In my mind, at this point the RSPO’s greatest deficiency is this:
The voluntary certification program of palm oil by the RSPO has not, in itself, halted what I call the “4 Ds”: namely, the deforestation problem, the destruction of habitat, the death of wildlife (through that very habitat loss), and the displacement of indigenous people.
Indeed, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) Forest Campaigner Lindsey Allen has been quoted as saying:
“RSPO membership does not ensure that any RSPO criteria are being met at the plantation level since the only major criteria to meet in the first 5 years is consistent dues payment…Even certification does not ensure that companies are not expanding on peat given the lack of greenhouse gas emissions criteria.” (quoted at http://endoftheicons.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/socp-tripa-battle-call/)
Further support can be found at the following links:
Here’s a scathing report on Cargill’s BS:
Fellow blogger Benamin Blech’s piece can be found here: http://benjaminblech.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/the-body-shop-on-palm-oil-clarity-please/
So take that for what it’s worth next time you pop some Orville Redenbacher Popcorn in your mouth. The second ingredient on the package is palm oil but it’s a member of the RSPO. Personally, that’s not good enough for me.
Nevertheless, here’s a list put together by the Houston Zoo of palm oil-free candy (and of RSPO member companies):